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Ernesto slowly strengthening

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:20 PM GMT on August 26, 2006

The Hurricane Hunters found a strengthening Tropical Storm Ernesto this morning. Their final report at 5:30am EDT had a pressure of 997mb, good enough for 50 mph winds at the surface. Water vapor satellite loops show a large upper level low forming over the western Caribbean, and this low is moving westward at nearly the same speed as Ernesto. Counterclockwise flow of air around the upper low is causing 15-20 knots of shear over Ernesto, and this can be seen in the water vapor loop and visible satellite loop causing a flattening of the clouds on the west side of the storm. However, the overall appearance of Ernesto on satellite imagery is slowly improving, with upper-level outflow developing on the east side, and more low-level spiral bands forming. Long range radar animations from Puerto Rico show these spiral bands. Rain amount of 1-3 inches have fallen across the island so far today, with isolated totals as high as 8 inches. As long as Ernesto does not grow any closer to the upper level low to his west, slow intensification should occur the remainder of today.

As Ernesto passes south of Haiti today, the mountainous southwestern peninsula could experience life-threatening flash floods. This is common in this part of Haiti, even for modest tropical storms. Deforestation of the hillsides has left them little protection from floodwaters.

Figure 1. Current storm total rain in Puerto Rico.

The intensity forecast
The latest 06 GMT (2am EDT) model runs are in, and they again portray a conflicting picture of what may happen. Two of the four major global models--UKMET and GFS--dissipate or severely weaken the storm by Monday. However, the other two major models, the NOGAPS and GFDL, foresee a major hurricane in the Gulf that hits the Florida Panhandle on Friday. The Canadian model takes a major hurricane to the Louisiana coast on Friday. It appears that the two models poo-pooing Ernesto--the UKMET and GFS--are not doing a good job initializing the storm, and this is causing an overly optimistic weakening. Ernesto is holding his own again the shear, and is much stronger today than these models were predicting in their runs yesterday. The NHC official forecast of a continued slow intensification into a Category 1 hurricane by Monday seems like a reasonable one. After that, an explosive deepening phase into a major Category 3 or 4 hurricane is certainly plausible, given the very warm waters and low wind shear forecast to develop. However, keep in mind that our computer models are very poor at forecasting the behavior of upper-level lows in the tropics, and the upper low to the west of Ernesto could easily be in a different location and bring significant shear to the system. In addition, intensity forecasts more than 48 hours out are very unreliable. Witness some of the intensity forecasts for Debby made two and three days ago, which called for her to be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane today. Today, Debby is a tropical depression on the verge of dissipation. With all that said, I believe that Ernesto will be a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico at some point.

Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cuba are going to get a pounding from Ernesto as he approaches hurricane strength Sunday and Monday. Washed out roads, downed power lines and trees, and minor roof damage will be common in those islands. Ernesto is under too much shear and does not have enough time to intensify into more than a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane before affecting those islands, and the full force of Ernesto is likely to be reserved for the U.S. Gulf Coast. Those of you with plans to be in Cancun or Cozumel can expect a day or so of airport closures due to high winds between Monday night and Tuesday night.

The track forecast
As Ernesto crosses into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, a trough of low pressure will be swinging across the eastern U.S. and should pull the storm on a more northerly track. Most of the models are showing that this trough will be strong enough to bring the storm all the way to the coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. However, the trough may not be strong enough to do this, and Ernesto could get stuck in the Gulf for a week, potentially heading westwards towards Texas as a new ridge of high pressure builds in. A subsequent trough could then turn the storm northwards into the coast at some later time. The UKMET model and GFS model prefer this solution. At this point, there is not enough information to say which solution is most likely, and residents from Texas to the Florida Keys need to be prepared for this storm to affect them.

The next system?
A large tropical wave with plenty of spin came off the coast of Africa yesterday is is currently over the Cape Verde Islands. Some of the computer models forecast that this wave will develop, but this is very unlikely for at least the next three days. The Saharan Air Layer analysis is showing a large amount of dry air spiraling into the center of this wave. There are currently no other threat areas to be concerned with. In the long range, the GFS is forecasting a very busy first week of September, with two or more tropical storms developing between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.

Hurricane Ioke
Hurricane Ioke in the Central Pacific underwent an eyewall replacement cycle and is now a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds today. However, now that this cycle is complete, the storm should attain Category 5 status again today. It's not a threat to any land areas, but if it remains a Category 4 hurricane or higher the next four days, as forecast models are calling for it to do, it might set a world record for the longest-lived Category 4 or higher storm. The 6Z GFDL model run has Ioke at 875mb in 4 days, the lowest forecast pressure ever made by the GFDL model. However, bear in mind that the GFDL model in the Central Pacific is not being run with its full coupled ocean model, so these extreme forecasts of Ioke's intensification are probably overdone. The GFDL is not the only model having trouble with Ioke--the 11pm discussion last night from the Honolulu Hurricane Center noted:
Big issue with the track guidance for the 06z model suite is that the UKMET track bounced off the date line...resulting in an erroneous mirror image track...eastbound back into the central Pacific. This threw all of the consensus model tracks off...bending them back sharply eastward.

Our tracking map software had a similar problem, and we're using some older software that doesn't have that problem right now for Ioke.

Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Category 5 Hurricane Ioke, 2030 GMT 8/25/06. Image credit: Navy research Lab.

Next update
The next Hurricane Hunter mission into Ernesto is at 2pm EDT this afternoon. I'll have an update sometime between 3-7pm today.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Well I am mostly on this blog because I like the cool links people find and put up. My speculative predictions are for fun.
2002. HCW
Models shift West

Taz this is the latest I have
Wow the trolls are really out again.
could i have the new GFDL runs for Tropical Storm Ernesto
2006. edith
Somebody posted a link to a 24 frame ir loop a while ago. After speeding up the image and watching for a few minutes, Ernesto"s general direction becomes obvious.

Leffty-don't worry about ClydeFrog he just comes on here to create trouble
its just North of the NHC track, but they are doing a great job so far
2009. Patrap
..there was a temp "give ".in the ridge to the N of Ernie,,it Bumped the High and got a lil response back..the WV shows the give & take nicely ..
First post?
Lefty, pay him no attention. He only bounces in here to rattle the cages and stir the juices!!
taz its going to be about 1:30am cst before that badboy comes out
i aint worried bout clydefrog, just wanting him to look like an idoit. make a statment and diaapear yeah i am not a troll lol
Link Taz, here you go that was weird
look at this
not looking good for FL aagin

what is shear like around Ernesto?
oh rats
i remember opal when it came off the yucatan penisular into campeche bay heading to texas. nhc forecast for it to turn ne and it did and came on land between ft. walton beach and navarre.
2019. Patrap
..has no Bridge above his FEMA trailer..but growls @ the Kids anyway..LOL
2021. cdo
Ernie doesnt look impressive, looked alot better last night, the 20kts of shear are doing their job....he was under 5-10kts earlier and was doing good. There are breaks in the convection, overall structure is not impressive, obviously ernie is a sheared system and continues to be a sheared system.
shear, der aint no shear here lol
2023. aquak9
Lefty..there's been some real intermittent troll problems while you were gone. Admin has asked us to spam them. Admin now has a tracking system to keep up with who's getting spammed a lot; they call it a "reputation" system. So just spam the trolls, don't feed'm.
cdo, he is actually looking better. u sayign he looked betetr kast night when he was what alot weaker is just so wrong
Upper Level Divergence has been increasing in association with Ernesto, thus so has the outflow.
ok what are the HH up to??
I noticed the models shift west at night and east during the day. Thay did this with Ivan Dennis Katrina and Rita
CDO, dont know what you are seeing but , it is looking better and better on the IR to me.
aquake9 wow cool did not kn ow that. will do
8am Advisory 15N,70.6 W
8pm Advisory 16.5,72.2 W
That is a bearing of 314 degrees over 12 hours.
NW = 315 degrees.

Still not convinced?
i also remember eloise came off the yacatan and was heading north and then ne and landed between destin and panama beach. and the nhc forecast it right also.
What in the hell are you smoking CDO? You have just lost your right to comment on Ernesto
Do you guys think Ernie will Shift and miss us in Jamaica, I doubt it, Looking at the list of Hurricane names Ernesto seems to be a olds man name and we seem to always get the old man names Hurricanes. Gilbert, Charlie, Ivan & now Ernesto.
next recon fix will be at 2am. u have 4 hrs to wait on recon
Two things:

1. It looks like he is slowing down in forward speed.

2. Looks like high pressure is holding firm over Fl

Any comments please
Ernesto might be heading for the channel betw. Cuba and Hispanlola. Or is a slight wobble north
FLchaser, you took the words out of my mouth!!
lefty the early cycle 00z runs or out. of course they are less realible.
i thought the HH were in there, you all were talking about it being at 15,000 and than 5,000
This is a sheared storm.....???

oh so i guess the nhc was mistaken than huh tamoacat


that was at 8pm. i say base don the last center fix motion has been wnw. lets see what the nhc has to say. Last i checked they were the authoirty on tropical systems
Leftyy would u agree that the best possible landfall Im seeing tonight woud probably be mobile area?? anyone's input is appreciated.
I suppose gas is going up Monday morning....
2045. Patrap
.Okay..letz zee..thes warms air ..comes offs zee warm Surface waters..and itz Goes up zee column..and takes zee warms,ocean airs & makies the Tunder-Boomers..then zee air circulatz counterclockvise..outta da chimmeny..Iz dat Korrect..Wherner?
Shear near Jamaica 5 to 10 KTS in 12 hours. Near 0 in the Eastern Gulf in 48 hours Link
Anybody else see a Hispaniola interaction that could tear this storm apart??? This is a slowly wobbling top that is being controlled by the ULL that is now Southeast of the Isle of Youth....though be it retroing to the SE...it is still "the man" as far as guiding Ernie...I say it meanders slowly North and gets interupted by Hispaniola and then contends with the Bahamas!
The Crimnals here in Jamaica will smile tomorrow idf the storm hits and power goes out, because they went wild after Ivan and the government had to call out the Army reserves.
2050. Zaphod
Can somebody explain the phenomenon we see now, with multiple "pillars" or IR and WV? I know those are areas of heavy convection, but while are they mostly to the East of the apparent center if the shear is now gone?

Will it try to wrap in the outlying popcorn storms to the S and to the NW?

thanks bam i will checkem out
oooooops dr m for got to do a 7pm update like he said he will its 10:15pm on the E cost oh well
clydefrog guess what i am oh my did that shock you

is that an eye tring to poke out??
here is some less realible 00z models.

2056. cdo
in fact, he looked better this am then he does now, the shear started picking up early afternoon and has continued...that along with the proximity to land should hold him in check. The shear, for sure, hasnt decreased, it has actually increased since this morning.
2057. Patrap
..No!..itz circulates clockvise outta da chimeniees Hans!..
456, since the center is definitely on the edge of the convection, yes it is a sheared storm.
zaphod shear is not gone just lessened and will continue to over the next 24 hrs as the ull fizzles and moves west
Posted By: WPBHurricane05 at 9:16 PM CDT on August 26, 2006.
i thought the HH were in there, you all were talking about it being at 15,000 and than 5,000

That was the late afternoon recon plane preparing to land in St. Croix. Next plane won't leave St. Croix for a couple hours.
interesting lefty, when addressed with cold hard numbers... completely ignore them. I'm done. Maths is so illogical.
Bama, whats the most reliable model on that chart??
for what it's worth, BRYAN NORCROSS is working tonight; caught the tail end of his report on UPN MIAMI. He said to wait and see bc ERNESTO has not been doing what it's supposed to be doing all day. He will be on CBS MIAMI after the NFL game.
CDO I am honestly going to report your posts. They are clearly there to rile people up.
no wb thats an area of deep convection

cdo i am sorry he looks betetr orginised and according to the recon and nhc he is. he went from bareky a ts to almost a cane and ur like its worse. i am sorry but i do not agree
No lefty, Ernesto has definitely been moving WNW. I think you are looking at the large blob of convection, not the actual center. The center is swirling on the west side of the convection with two batches of thunderstorms on the right and left side of it. Watching satellite imagery that blob has unmistakenly been moving WNW.
Long Beach, MS here. Made reservations in Hattiesburg early Friday morning. Have hurricane supplies ready, cars gassed up, plywood for windows. Just a wait and see game to determine if I need to keep those reservations or cancel them. It didn't feel too great when I called to extend our stay one more day and was told they were booked...Red Cross had reserved a block of rooms! I'm certain it's only a precaution!
2071. Patrap
..oo superensemble holds good for the 60-72 range...the Forcasting challenge goes out to 120...and is er..not clear from the package.
St, its not on any edge....its right under the CDO.
CatChaser, where are you located?
Heres a prediction clydefrog: Link
is the cone going to shift in this 11pm advisory towards the right?
TampaCat5...Nahh...Don't leave...this is not Lefty's Blog. This is the Dr's Blog.
new blog up from dr. M
tampa i fired back with numbers of my own. u want me to say the nhc is wrong i wont. i go by what they tell us casue last i cheked they were the authority on hurricanes. they say wnw go argu with them


I'm not going to accuse oil companies of gouging; They have a right to charge what the market will bear. But gas is at its lowest price for several months here in the Shenandoah Valley around $2.60..sure hate to see that trend reversing.
honestly the OFCL...that the nhc offical track. I believe the CONU is the average of all of them. Pretty much just look for the overall trend in the models. Here they shifted back west a bit from teh 1800z run
2083. cdo
yes, it is a sheared system and Ernesto(along with the other storms that have developed this year) have been able to survive hostile conditions.

It looks almost rectangular, no circle or even oval, squarish or rectagler in nature. Just take a loke at Loke to compare structures.
Hey Y'all! What y'all up to this time?
2085. scla08
new blog Link
kyle i been saying wnw tamoacat is saying nw read the post again kthanxbye
2087. 21N71W
new blog!
2088. Patrap
.as goes the saying.."some people..if they dont wanna know..u cant tell um"...
cdo hmm u meana cat4 cane vs a ts lol thats funny
Undertaker, my buddy went to Jamaica on his honeymoon and ate a space brownie. He told me it took him 15 minutes to figure out to either go under or step over a rope accross the beach.
Posted By: Undertaker at 9:13 PM EST on August 26, 2006.
Do you guys think Ernie will Shift and miss us in Jamaica, I doubt it, Looking at the list of Hurricane names Ernesto seems to be a olds man name and we seem to always get the old man names Hurricanes. Gilbert, Charlie, Ivan & now Ernesto.

I am inclined to agree with you Undertaker but from my vantage point here in Kingston I gave a sigh of relief when I saw Ernie jog to the North.

You might still get a "licking" there in Mobay though Undertaker.
2094. armacjm
Here's an interesting link. Move the blue L and the red H to the appropriate locations, and then move the squall to the lower circle...

2095. Patrap
..in Se la & Texas..we have a saying in the Oil /gasoline buisness.."Crude is water..Refiners make it gold"....EPA & Enviromental groups havent allowed a New refinery to be Built since 1979..thats 27 years..
2096. edith
Clydefrog, it must be miserable to live with so much anger. Don't worry, there's hope, the grave is not far away. :)
looks like we are getting another "burst" of convection near the center.....

seems the ULL is pulling away just a little faster, thus shear conditions should slowly decrease..... i think! LOL
lefty explain to these folks that this will be a large storm in size.
and large storms do not turn on a dime its gradual turn. this storm will not be turned
sharply like a weaker small system. so the nhc track for now is probably close. a hit from central la to the western fla pnhdle
I,m back what did I miss?
More of the same all day. Ernesto held in check by some fairly severe shear. Didn't seem to die down much (shear) all day long. Maybe tomorrow it'll let up. Ernesto is big enough to handle the shear though. Track seems fairly far north from yesterday's projected path so the GFDS model seems fairly close to on target from path projection since yesterday...